As the European Parliament begins preparing amendments to the draft 2018 budget, Sinn Féin MEPs have submitted an amendment that seeks to protect farming communities from currency fluctuations.

“The lack of pace on Brexit de-negotiations should have no bearing on remaining countries and regions putting in place structures to protect vulnerable sectors,” MEP Matt Carthy said, speaking following submission of the amendment to the EU’s 2018 budget.

“Currency fluctuations since the Brexit vote last year have all but destroyed the mushroom sector, and are now starting to threaten other sectors, such as beef.

“Uncertainty regarding the devaluation of the sterling is being exploited by the deeply concentrated meat-processing market, resulting in sharp price drops for farmers.”

Article 219

According to Carthy, Article 219 of the Common Market Organisation regulation provides for exceptional measures against market disturbances, which the European Commission enacts to adopt delegated acts to react against significant price falls on internal or external markets.

This also applies to other events that significantly disturb the market.

“In response to the Russian embargo in 2014, this Article was triggered to give €33m to peach and nectarine growers, €125 to perishable fruit and vegetables, and €28m to the dairy sector in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

“In fact, a €10.7m fund was set up for Finish milk alone, with the justification that 25% of its milk production was destined for Russia. This is well below the 80% of Irish mushroom production destined for the British market.”

Accessibility and support

Carthy is seeking for a temporary fund of a fix-term duration to be set up under European Agricultural Guarantee Fund, which could be accessed by farmers who are suffering from these issues.

He has received support from a number of MEPs across Ireland and several other countries since voicing his concerns.

“I will be seeking cross-party support for this proposal, to ensure that farming livelihoods are protected during Brexit negotiations,” he concludes.

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